Skin. Our largest organ. The physical boundary where we meet the world around us.
And wow, the world around us has taken a big shift. So sit back, join us with a cup of tea and embark on a brief learning journey about how body oiling is related to so many other body systems.
It’s easy to love body oils for the ritual, the aroma, hydrated skin, relaxation, and beauty. AND it just so happens that body oiling also benefits the nervous and lymphatic systems, which are all connected to our immunity!
There are a lot of rabbit holes to go down….today we touch on 3: the nervous system, the lung meridian, and the lymphatic system & how they are each supported by body oiling.
We know self-care, diet, herbalism can be an overwhelming world of info. What’s so nice about body oils as a remedy is you just get to put them on :) Simple as that.
DRY SKIN = DRY NERVES
Our myriad of nerve pathways throughout our body lay just under the surface of the skin. If the skin is dry and dehydrated, so are our nerve endings. This means that nerves may not be sending signals and firing their synapses as well. It’s a shared concept with reflexology - which uses hands-on touch to bring circulation and clear any “gunk” from the nerve endings associated with areas of the body. The fats of body oils especially aid in soothing and nourishing the nerves. The application of fat and oils and herbs goes way back. We’ve been doing this for a long time.
We know a full-body oiling session is a commitment. After a long day and eagerness to get into bed to relax - you can simply oil your ears, feet, and hands! This is where we have a large concentration of nerve endings!
We love the way herbalists Amber Magnolia Hill & Kami McBride share about these benefits on this podcast from Medicine Stories!
THE LUNG MERIDIAN
This is just a little tie in with the times of COVID 19. The virus that impacts the lungs. Interestingly, the lung meridian in Traditional Chinese Medicine governs the skin, along with the emotions of grief & loss. Skin is sometimes called “the third lung,” as it breathes in its own way through perspiration, temperature regulation, intake of sunlight, and more. We can think hydrated skin = hydrated lung meridian. Some soothing touch on this meridian pathway can help move stored emotions. You can sweep, brush, tap, massage starting from where your shoulder meets your chest - down the inside edge of your arm - and out the end of your thumb.
LYMPHATIC & IMMUNE SYSTEMS
Skin is an immunological organ! There are billions of immune cells in the skin. As soon as we get a cut or scrape, our immune system is right there to heal it. Here’s some science that illuminates the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of some plant oils on the skin barrier.
And then there’s lymph. We love this fun podcast with Organic Olivia & Lisa Levitt Gainsley. Lisa, a Certified Lymphedema Therapist says, “One hand, two hands, you can boost your immune system; boost your lymph system for free.” She teaches self-lymphatic massage!
Our lymphatic system is a body-wide network - it’s everywhere, think mycelium. A lot of folks think of the lymph nodes like the ones in the armpits or under the neck. You can think of these as filtration centers, but lymph runs all throughout our bodies. It’s in our brains, our digestive tract, our face, and toes! But our western world is just waking up to this long-held knowledge.
Our lymph filters all the particles that are too big for our blood to filter! Like excess hormones, toxins, viruses, and bacteria. Unlike our cardiovascular system which has the heart as a pump, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump! Its movement gets propelled by ours - exercise! Plus diet and manual lymphatic flushes from therapists.
Lisa emphasizes in the podcast that, the “majority of what we're putting on our skin has to get absorbed through the lymphatic system. So that's why it's so important to put natural products on your body.”
So next time we go to put on our body oils, we can implement some of Lisa’s self lymphatic massage protocol!
I hope this was a good intro to some of the deeper magic of body oils! Here’s to going slow, easy, steady. Being nourished and staying connected with ourselves and the earth. Be well friends & be good to yourselves.
Want to learn more? Amber Magnolia Hill wrote a whole eBook, Herbal Body Oiling: Ancient Sacrament, Modern Necessity.
"When we think about taking herbal medicine, we tend to picture teas, tinctures, or some other way of ingesting the medicinal benefits of the plant through the mouth. But the skin is our largest organ and is incredibly absorbent, with direct access to the nervous, lymphatic, and immune systems. By keeping the body hydrated with fat (oil) as opposed to water (like in lotion), we keep these systems nourished, running smoothly, and functioning at the highest possible level.
In this ebook I will share with you the many health benefits that herb-infused oils bring directly into the body, practical tips for making body oiling a regular part of your self-care routine, and detailed instructions on how to make your own fresh plant infused Herbal Body Oils so that you can save money and focus on the plants that work best for your & your loved one’s needs.” - Amber Magnolia Hill
Our Anointing Oil is made with a deep and potent infusion of rosemary, bay laurel (hello, lymph lover), mugwort, and sage that is absolutely perfect for body oiling. Or try the Juniper Artemisia Body Oil or the Rosehip Repair Face + Body Oil